School Lunch Ideas They Won't Throw Away

by Julie Snyder

school lunchesIs lunchtime your child's favorite recess? Does your social butterfly anxiously await for their midday break, devoted to hanging out with friends?

Then you have your work cut out for you. Given a choice between choosing to play and working through that lunch, you can bet that fun and games win out.

No wonder kids come home starving, accompanied by their still-full lunch box. Don't worry. We have a solution. What you need is school lunch ideas that will get eaten -- at lunchtime.

We've put together an assortment of healthy and colorful, fast finger foods and "just a bit different" main lunch items that can tempt even the busiest kid.

Once you've chosen the menu, you can up the odds that the lunch box (or bag) gets opened. Ask your child to suggest ideas for creative sandwiches and lunch ideas. Next, enlist Ms. or Mr. Creativity's help putting them together. They have to learn how to cook sometime!

Three Lunches Items That Won't Come Home

1. Fast Finger Foods

Your kid wants to be finished in a hurry with time left over to play. Instead of a big, time-consuming sandwich, include a few fast fingers foods.

• Monday: Crumble whole grain crackers into nut butter and stuff into celery sticks
• Tuesday: Chicken and cheese quesadillas, cut into bite-sized bits
• Wednesday: Grilled cheese and ham sandwich sliced into wedges
• Thursday: Turkey wraps with dip
• Friday: Veggie sticks and hummus or whole grain chips and black bean and corn dip

2. Mini Make-Your-Owns

What could be more fun than concocting your own lunch in the cafeteria? Let your child give it a try!

• Monday: Pizzas! Include muffins or bagel halves with sauce, grated cheese, meat, olives and vegetables
• Tuesday: Build it yourself salad -- include chopped romaine, thin strips of chicken, cheese cubes, individual packets of veggies and your child's favorite dressing
• Wednesday: Yogurt and stuff. Start with a container of plain yogurt. Offer berries, sliced peaches or pears and nuts or granola for topping.
• Thursday: Dip it day -- Put dollops of healthy dips in containers and sent along crackers, vegetables or squares of bread to dip.
• Friday: Roll ups -- sent meats, dip or sauce, vegetables and a flat bread and let your child combine however seems right

3. New Twists on Everyday Sandwiches

This week, offer a bit different sandwiches each day. Play up to the adventure in advance.

• Monday: Banana dog -- top nut butter or cream cheese with a sprinkle of sunflower seeds and half of a banana served up in a whole grain hot dog bun
• Tuesday: Grated carrots and melted cheese on sliced berry muffin or zucchini bread slices
• Wednesday: Sandwich on a stick -- skewer cubes of meat, cheese, lettuce, olives, grape tomatoes and others of your child's favorite vegetables or fruits; include a dip.
• Thursday: Reduced-fat cream cheese and raisins or veggies on a seed and nut bread, cut in quarters
• Friday: Salmon or tuna salad sandwiches, but into finger strips

Which lunch goodies does your child always eat? Will you be trying other ideas this year?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.